Sunday, April 30, 2006

Firefox Flicks Winners Announced

Mozilla have announced the winners to their 'Firefox Flicks' competition to come up with a video advertising Firefox.

The grand prize winner, "Daredevil," will be short-listed for the NY Festival of Advertising's 2006 International Advertising Awards in May, and the finalists' Firefox videos will be incorporated into Mozilla's 2006 marketing activities. The contest and today's announcement of the winners wrap up the initial launch of the Firefox Flicks campaign, which will continue throughout 2006.

The winner's video takes an interesting approach, with a 'daredevil' girl into surfing talking about her love, with the text 'my other browsers a surfboard. Get Firefox' coming up at the end. It's nicely done, but you can judge it for yourself:

Saturday, April 29, 2006


In the past few weeks, Scoble's been heavily promoting On10, a new website from Microsoft offering videos about technology. It seems a bit like Channel9 (the excellent, and very popular video website from MS aimed at techies and developers), except aimed at those with just a passing interest in technology, rather than an obsession.From the 0n10 website:

On10 is a place for people who want to use technology to change the world. Every weekday at 10:00 am (PST) we’ll update this site with a new video that highlights people, their passions and often the technology they are using. At the end of each week we compile these videos into a full length show with some extra surprises for you.In addition to the show, we're launching a number of blogs for the enthusiast covering a wide range of topics. Our blogs will be written by Microsoft employees, members of the 10 community or a mixture of both.

Welcome to the beginning of 10, the next step starts with you!

One of the features of On10 is the ability to stick their videos on your blog, like Google Video and YouTube, so just for the sake of it, here's a quite good video of Vista Scoble was talking about.

UPDATE: Video removed, it was causing 'issues'. You can view it here. In the mean time, On10 needs to sort this out!

It's a good way for MS to promote itself and improve its image with that all important target market of those people who are quite interested in technology but don't know vast amounts about it, and all-to-often (or maybe not) see Microsoft as a nasty big evil monopoly. They should do more of this stuff, maybe sponsering tech shows in the mainstream media in exchange for a chance to put across their products, in the hope of slowly eroding the image.

In other MS news, their appeal against the EU Commission is over, and they await judgement. If they lose, there's not much point worrying about image, because they've got the far bigger worry of millions of euros of fines per day, and compulsary sharing of information with competitors about their key architectures.


This week Microsoft released IE7 Beta 2. It's the third public build they've released (the other two being Beta 2 'Previews') and it is now said to be feature and layout complete. That means that it's not getting any more features and webpages look the same in it now as they will do when the final version is released. All I can say is, they've got a lot of bug fixing to do. I can't use IE7 for anything, as it is so unstable, on both my desktop and laptop. It crashes on Yahoo! Mail Beta and even on the MSN Videos site.

The good news is that MS is offering free telephone support to those trying the beta in the US and quite a few European countries. The bad news is it isn't available in the UK, so I can't ring them to sort out whatevever is causing the problem. I'm not running any particularly unusual software that could possibly be affecting the browser, and to be honest, by this point I would have expected the beta to be much more stable. Bon Echo, effectively Firefox 2 Alpha 1 is infinitely more stable, and I don't think that has crashed on me once. So it looks like I've made my decision as to which next-gen internet browser I'm using!

BT buys

PC Pro are reporting that BT has picked up the UK-based online retailer From a BT press release:

The move is part of BT’s strategy to strengthen its online sales and service
capabilities, particularly for small and medium-sized business and consumer products. To complement Dabs’ broad base of IT and technology products, BT will offer its full range of products and support services online – enhancing its position as a leading retailer of converged IT and communications products and services.

A spokesman has told PC Pro that BT will not rebrand, and it will remain a subsidiary. This move by BT shows that it is keen to move beyond its key business area of telecoms. This area of BT is under constant attack as Ofcom (the telecoms regulator in the UK) demands more and more 'demonopolisation' (not sure if that's a word!) with the unbundling of broadband connections in telephone exchanges, and the advance of rival telephone providers, such as TalkTalk. BT needs to find more areas to make money if it wants to survive.

Full BT Press Release

Friday, April 28, 2006

Revolution renamed Wii

No, there isn't a typo in the title. Nintendo have officially renamed their next-generation video games console, to Wii. Pronounced like "we", the new name has sparked some not-so-serious discussion about potential slogans ("Wii will wii will rock you").

Nintendo are saying this name change means that the new console will be recognised and understood in any language.

The Nintendo Wii will be Nintendo's way into the next generation console market, with Microsoft's Xbox 360 already released and Sony's PlayStation 3 set for this November.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Microsoft fights to keep secrets

According to the BBC, EU vs Microsoft continues (read up here).

Microsoft are now trying to fight the EU ruling that they must release information about how Windows works so that its competitors can more easily interoperate.

MS lawyers are saying:

The Windows source code is copyright. It is valuable, the fruit of lots of effort

While Europe say:

Microsoft are trying to turn this into an intellectual property case when it's not

The saga continues.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Free phone support on IE7 Beta 2

The BBC has a story that in the US, Germany and Japan, Microsoft are offering free telephone support to beta testers of Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2.

It seems Microsoft want to shift the focus of testing the beta now from developers to normal people. The pressure of increasing uses of alternative browsers such as Firefox, which now has around 10% of the browser market, seems to be forcing Microsoft to stir up interest in their new browser.

The beta is freely available to all users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003, use the link above.

Monday, April 24, 2006

17" MacBook Pro announced

Apple have made a press release (and now you can see details on their website) that they are releasing a new version of their flagship notebook computer the MacBook Pro with a 17" LCD screen.

It includes three USB ports (compared with 2 on the 15" MacBook) and a Firewire 800 port in addition to the Firewire 400 port included as standard on the 15" MacBook Pro. It also has an 8x speed DVD writer (which now supports dual layer burning).

The new MacBook Pro still uses a dual-core 2.16 GHz processor, but nevertheless is a very powerful and stylish notebook. It comes with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and iLife 06 and will set you back £1,999 ($2,799 in the US).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Vista screenshots

There are some new screenshots of the latest test version of Windows Vista (build 5365), now available for viewing here.

Unfortunately, there aren't many new features, as now the focus on the development of Windows Vista is on making what is already there as stable as possible, ready for the release in early 2007.

Having said that, features like the Windows Sidebar and User Account Protection are looking a lot more complete, but why not see the screenshots for yourself?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

PS2 price cut in US

Sony have slashed the price of their PlayStation 2 console in the USA to $130 (about £73), down around $20. This looks like another move showing that the PS3 console will hopefully be launching soon, after long waiting. The console is planned to be launched in November this year after many delays.

"While we continue to innovate and design groundbreaking new products, we remain dedicated to our long-term vision for the PlayStation 2 platform..."
Apparently, Sony haven't officially given up on the PS2 just yet then.

Unfortunately, Sony have no plans to modify the current UK price of £104.99.

Monday, April 17, 2006

New codename for Vista's successor

Apparently, an insider inside Microsoft has said that the successor to Windows Vista has a brand new codename.

We've already had the suggestions of 'Blackcomb' and 'Vienna', but this time the future of Windows is going to be called Fiji.

Obviously, this is a codenamed (like the 'Longhorn' codename for Vista), and will not reflect the final name for the product.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

High-def copy protection 'hackable'

Freedom to Tinker have a blog post about how HDCP copy protection works and how it might be possible to break it. HDCP copy protection is the next-generation copy protection used in high definition media setups (for example, HD DVD and Bluray discs to HDTVs) which will prevent the media content being copied through the cable using a device.

It is a bit complex, but in this article it has been distilled down quite well, so if you're fairly technically competent and have reasonable maths skills, you might be able to get the gist of it.

The remaining question is, how long will HDCP last before a mainstream crack becomes available? The Content Scrambling System pioneered on DVDs promised a lot, but it wasn't long before people just copied the protection codes from a legitimate DVD player and created decryption software.

Firefox released

Mozilla have released a small update to their flagship Firefox browser.

The new update, version, includes some important security fixes, some bug fixes and on the Mac OS X Platform, Firefox is now a Universal Binary (it runs on both Intel and PowerPC-based Macs).

If you're a Firefox user, get it now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

.eu goes live

You can now officially buy a .eu domain name (if you live in Europe, of course). According to BBC News, the 'sunrise' period where companies can snap up domain names with their trademarks in has passed. So, go out and buy the really good .eu domain names while they last. Because, they won't.

Germany have registered the most .eu domain names so far, followed by the Netherlands, France and then the UK.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Apple Boot Camp Installation Video

Just a quick follow up from the post about Apple Boot Camp. UNEASYSilence have a really cool video on how Apple's Boot Camp bootloader is installed. It's about 8 minutes long.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Apple Boot Camp

Apple have officially released Boot Camp, a public beta version of a patch to make Intel-powered Macs to run Windows. Yes, you read that correctly, Apple released a patch to run Windows on the Mac.

The patch works a bit like the hacked-up bootloader for Windows XP, developed by some enthusiasts to try and get Windows running on some Macs, which was largely a success. Boot Camp, however, provides a GUI (graphical user interface) for installing Microsoft Windows alongside Mac OS X. From the official Apple press release:

Available as a download beginning today, Boot Camp allows users with a Microsoft Windows XP installation disc to install Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac®, and once installation is complete, users can restart their computer to run either Mac OS® X or Windows XP. Boot Camp will be a feature in '“Leopard',” Apple'’s next major release of Mac OS X, that will be previewed at Apple'’s Worldwide Developer Conference in August.
So in Mac OS X Leopard, you will have a dual boot system built directly into the Mac operating system. Apple go on to say that:

"Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple'’s superior hardware now that we use Intel processors," said Philip Schiller.

This seems quite a big step to take for Apple, who seem to be embracing the idea that people will switch to Mac if they can run their Windows applications at the same time. Robert Scoble (a Microsoft employee) seems to think that Apple are listening to bloggers, and have made this decision as a direct result of what people want, thinking it might boost Mac sales.

Will it boost Mac sales, and get more people using Macs? Or will people just buy nice-looking hardware to run Windows on? It seems only time will tell what this momentous move by Apple will do for it, or against it. No official word from Microsoft about this yet, but I'll follow up when there's news.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Google Related Links

Google has launched Related Links today in the Labs. It had been seen around the place before, but it's now official. It allows site owners to put different variants of this box on their site.
[picture off Google Blogoscoped because I couldn't get JavaScript to work on Blogger]

It's not a particularly exciting launch, but it will probably have a reasonable takeup. For Google it's quite a good move. They get (all but) free advertising for their searches and news, which in turn gains them market share and converts into ad revenue. Philipp at Google Blogoscoped reckons that Google might look at putting AdWords on there at some point in the future, but I doubt that, as it would deter many publishers from using them and Google will already be getting some ad revenue from the search result page ads. It's more likely that they will put an optional Froogle module on it.

Apple ship major Tiger update

Apple have just released an update (10.4.6) to their Mac OS X system for users of the latest version, Tiger (version 10.4.x).

It fixes some bugs, patches some security holes, improves some of Mac OS' featurs and includes a whole new version of their iSync application. It's been released for both Intel and PowerPC-powered Macs, not as a Universal Binary, but as two separate downloads.

Apparently, it spooked one PowerBook user, as the PowerPC version of the update restarts the Mac twice, where the Intel version restarts only once.

Apple users can get the update through Mac OS X Software Update or from the Apple website.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Windows OneCare Live

[Picture from]

As part of Microsoft's new 'Windows Live' marketing push, they are marketing a new complete security solution for Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista, called Windows OneCare Live. It will provide antivirus, firewall , antispyware and backup capabilites, all easily accessible to view and control from one OneCare centre. The beta is free (US only, however) and apparently gets you a discount on the product when it does finally come out.

This looks like Microsoft branching out into the (large) sphere of Windows security products out there. It looks like they will try and take on the big players like Symantec and McAfee, and are marketing OneCare Live as a separate product, as the EU would not be happy if Microsoft included it in Vista.

(On a completely different topic, there's a very complete list of all April Fool's Jokes this year here on Wikipedia).

Revolution will have SD and USB

Engadget is reporting that the Revolution will have an SD card slot, as well as a USB socket to enable external hard drives.

It doesn't look like the Revolution will have all the media features of the Xbox and PS3, but it will be significantly cheaper, and the lack of an internal hard drive or massive media support is probably part of an attempt by Nintendo to keep costs to an absolute minimum, enabling them to significantly undercut their competitors and market using a 'just games' approach. It's their best chance of success, 'cos the Revolution certainly can't compete with the other two on power.

Beating Google

Scoble has a post on what he thinks of, formerly Ask Jeeves, and he talks about how he rates search engines:

Here's the first test I use to decide whether a search engine (that is relevancy based like Google, Yahoo, MSN, or Ask) deserves praise over Google: put in my last name and see if it ranks that properly. Why does that matter? Cause I have thousands of inbound links.

It set me thinking about how one decides how good a search engine is. I suppose the ultimate test would be the extent to which, over time, the right information was delivered when searched for. However, even that test is flawed because there would be an element of the user changing to fit the search engine as well as the sheer impracticality of comparing search engines that way.
One way that might work better is to come up with some program that automatically searches search engines for a specific information, when it already knows what that information is. Essentially what Scoble's doing. But then there's another problem. There are two possible types of webpage wanted when the search string 'scoble' is typed in. Not only Scoble's site, but possibly also the site that has the best and most reliable information on Scoble. It's just an example, but I think the point clear.

Probably the future of effective search lies in not only ranking the pages, which is what Google is good at, but in working out what the pages mean and what type of information the user is looking for, over and above the search string. The ability to test search results reliably is the only way that search engines can improve, and the winner of the quest to test the best may well also be the one that finally beats Google, unless Google get there first, of course.

MS Virtual Server to support Linux

It has been revealed that in Microsoft's new release of their Virtual Server 2005 product, they will support Linux running as a virtual machine for the first time.

Virtualisation software, such as MS Virtual Server, VMware and Xen allows multiple 'guest' virtual computers to run on one physical machine. It's useful for testing new software on multiple platforms and for spreading the load on overstreched servers.

It's been almost traditional that Microsoft's Virtual Server product only fully supported Windows as a guest operating system for Virtual Server, but it seems they are about to change that. This is probably a response to the growing dominance of VMware, which works on Windows and Linux physical machines and hosts both Windows and Linux 'guests'. VMware also released a beta of a free version of their server product, for Windows and Linux which can be downloaded here.

Microsoft also announced that Virtual Server will be built into their next server operating system, currently still codenamed Windows Longhorn Server (but will probably be called Windows Server 2007). This is also to rival VMware's free product.

This news comes just as the open source Xen virtualisation software is branching out to run on Windows platforms, as it currently only works on Linux (but is already built into SUSE Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Looks like Goowy is getting round to its much-anticipated upgrades, including support for lots of different IM systems as well as its own new one, and online storage, provided by the API, with users getting 1GB for free and being able to pay for extra.

I've talked about Goowy before, and I think it could potentially be a very promising service if it successfully sorts out it's performance and occasional usability issues. It also urgently needs some extra widgets, so it should open up its system to other developers to solve that problem. With these new features, Goowy is definitely a Web 2.0 mover to watch.

Slashdot repositions

CmdrTaco, one of the people who run Slashdot, posted this message this morning:
Our marketing department has done extensive research over the last 3 quarters and discovered that our audience is strangely disproportionately skewed towards males. Like, 98.3% males to be precise. To correct this oversight, we have decided to subtly tweak Slashdot's design and content to widen our appeal to these less active demographics. Don't worry! We'll still continue to serve our core audience, but we hope you'll work with us as we try to find a balance that will work for all.
To that end, they have decided to do a little tweaking of their colour scheme:

and have added the strapline 'OMG, Ponies!' below their logo.

They have also found it necessary to change the style of their headlines, with wordings today including





All lovely!

Google's April Fool's joke

I predicted they would do one and they did.

I won't spoil the fun for those of you that haven't seen it yet, but here it is. (It's also on the Google homepage.)